Manny Diaz and the Miami Hurricanes got a huge boost to its 2021 recruiting class with the commitment of five-star defensive tackle Leonard Taylor on Thursday. Taylor made the commitment on CBS Sports HQ, giving the Canes a recruiting win over Florida for one of the best players in the talent-rich state.
Coming from Miami Palmetto High School, the 6-foot-4, 255-pound Taylor ranks as the No. 6 player in the state of Florida, the No. 3 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 27 overall player in the Class of 2021, according to the 247Sports Composite.
Our partners at 247Sports are even higher on Taylor than the industry average, ranking him as the No. 4 overall prospect in the class. 247Sports expert Charles Power provided this scouting report on Taylor:
Has little bad weight with the frame and length to tack on more weight in his upper body and midsection. Should see his body transform once he's in a full-time strength and conditioning program at the next level. Is a fluid and natural athlete playing along the defensive line. Uses his length to disengage from opposing offensive linemen and wins with a strong first step and quick swim move. Incredibly disruptive as an interior pass rusher. Gets his hands on a lot of footballs whether it's by using his long arms to disrupt passing lanes or blocking kicks. Plays with good pad level and body lean. Finds multiple ways to disrupt the offensive game plan. Will need to continue improving his strength at the point of attack and the ability to hold his ground when double teamed. Looks like one of the top overall prospects nationally in the 2021 cycle and among the better defensive linemen to come out of South Florida in years. Projects as a multi-year starter at the Power Five level with all-league and All-American potential and the upside of developing into a first round draft pick.
The comparison for Taylor is another disruptive defensive lineman who went on to be a first round pick: former Alabama star Quinnen Williams.
Taylor grew up playing basketball and baseball and still figures to have plenty of development left as he matures into that potential first round talent. That's where picking Miami makes some sense for him, joining a Hurricanes program that has fielded elite defensive lines under the guidance of Diaz.
The recruiting win for Miami carries both immediate and big-picture implications. Of course the arrival of a five-star talent at one of the most important position groups in football is going to boost anyone's future stock, but it's also meaningful that the Canes were able to lock down a commitment from a Miami native who ranked as one of the best players in the state. The state of Florida, and particularly South Florida, are no longer recruiting advantages with so many of the top programs in the country carrying out national strategies that include visits to the Sunshine State. Not only did Miami fend off Florida for Taylor, but also early interest from Alabama and Auburn.
Taylor is the third Miami Palmetto prospect to join the Hurricanes 2021 class, joining four-star defensive tackle Savion Collins and three-star wide receiver Brashard Smith. Miami is also in the running for two more top targets from the school: five-star cornerback Jason Marshall and four-star safety Corey Collier.